Sunday, September 1, 2013

We Have Moved to Our New Website. Come Check Out the New Look! 
It's September!
The summer has been busy behind the scenes at Solifore Notes. Together with Noriko we have slowly and successfully migrated my blogspot to my new website! Thank you for visiting me here on blogspot since April 1, 2011.  Continued reflection on perfume, perfumers, individual notes, and people living in an olfactive world will all live on the new website. I hope you enjoy the design and ease. 

The Soliflore Notes Facebook page is also alive and well, and I will be posting latest photos from Elements Showcase in NYC and inspired images and words..

See you soon, Valerie

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Snapshot #9, Julia Zangrilli, NOVA

I met Julia Zangrilli in her intimate studio just a few weeks ago, and one thing that resonates is her knack for making sophisticated custom fragrances that are perfectly tailored for her clientele. Together we smelled not only her first retail release, Chakra, (read my review on CaFleureBon-tomorrow) but we also smelled a few of her customs, and as we did this she effortlessly described  what held her interest about each person and formula. She has carved out a solid brand that speaks fluently to the personal and now with Chakra, she will speak to a broader public. Enjoy, and thanks Julia. VV

Where did you grow-up? Is there an olfactive memory from that time and place that you can share with us?

I grew up in State College, PA. If I had to pick a childhood smell it would be the smell of the soda gun in my dad's restaurant The Deli. I used to hang out there every day after school. Syrupy, a little metallic, with those wafts of alcohol that emanate from wooden bars.

Can you share any daily rituals?

Everyday I drink a kombucha - it's cleansing and energizing. I have a miniature Australian Shepherd named Osa, who jumps on my bed to cuddle every morning. I have a chill dinner with my fiance most nights - it's my favorite way to unwind and shake off the day.


How did you come to perfumery?

I guess I was looking for a creative outlet. I'd recently taken my friend to this voo-doo store in the east village to peruse oils for fun - and she noticed that I had a strong ability to talk about what we were smelling. We weren't smelling "fine" materials, but she saw a penchant that I'd never noticed or thought about. At any rate, a few weeks later she forwarded me a 101 raw materials class she'd seen in NYMag, taught by Anne McClaine. I took the course and instantly became obsessed with the world of perfumery.

It was great to spend time in your studio, it's intimate and perfect for the custom fragrance experience. What is the concept behind NOVA, and is there a person or an idea that has been an influence?

NOVA was influenced by many things. Mainly I found the astronomical definition to be a perfectly subtle and poetic way of describing fragrance. From a type perspective, the word itself is beautiful - the way the N, V and A sit together creates a symmetrical effect. Through the manufacturing process, the Do family at Delbia Do Manufacturers has been hugely helpful. Specifically Darryl Do - number one mentor.

I am so fond of the chair you were sitting on in your studio, you mentioned it was your mother's. I love how family objects can be grounding, and add wabi sabi to our home/work space. Can you speak to us about your Chinese/Italian heritage, I believe you are first generation Chinese/Italian American, has this significantly shaped your world, if so how?

My mother was born 1945 in Shanghai, a toddler around the start of the Communist Revolution. It's a long story but her parents and sister went to the U.S. and left my mom behind with the intention of having her naturalized immediately. The naturalization process ended up taking eight years, so she was raised by her grandparents.  When she finally arrived she was "Americanized" and in a few years and became fluent in English and a star student across the board. To this day she's a renaissance woman who never stops learning/doing. My father was born 1941 in Altoona, Pennsylvania - one of the youngest in a 12-person family who had recently immigrated from Pontecorvo, Italy. His family was too impoverished to provide for everyone, so he was taken in by a neighboring Italian family who was less poor and with only 1 daughter. Shortly after, both of his parents died and he/his siblings were officially orphaned and separated. He started working when he was a kid, first doing paper routes, then flipping pizzas at 13- which began his currently 50-year career as a restauranteur. He and my mom built a restaurant empire, which at its peak consisted of 18 establishments - restaurants, bars and music venues. And raised 4 kids. Total rugged individualist American dream. That heritage makes me exceedingly proud and lucky. Their entrepreneurial spirit, curiosity and lightness of heart have hugely influenced me. (a picture from their early marriage is below).

Are there raw materials that you are drawn to more than others, can you name them here?

It really depends on my mood, though I have a special place in my heart for strange and abstract synthetic oils.

Chakra, NOVA's first signature scent recently launched, how does creating a signature scent differ from creating a custom fragrance for a single client? Do you have a preference?

I take price-point into account much more when working on a formula for retail. With custom fragrances, I can create with higher amounts of precious ingredients. With custom work I'm creating for a specific person's skin, and tweak to their specifications. In developing a retail scent, I still test on a number of people but it's less pointed. The pressures to please are different, there are always more customers with retail, but with a custom formula there's nowhere to run! Both processes are rewarding in different ways, I don't have a preference.

Do you pack fragrances when you travel, if so, which ones?

I save testers, and pick a few at random. I always have a roll-on of a light/therapeutic fragrance oil that I've made - recently I've been loving just french neroli diluted with jojoba and coconut oil.  

What is your  favorite flower? 

I don't have one. I've been making a marked effort to buy flowers for my apartment every week...I like to mix it up! I never make the same arrangements.

Do you have a favorite cocktail, can you share the recipe?

Summers, it's Campari and orange juice with an orange slice. 1 part campari, 2 or 3 parts orange juice depending on how you like it, ice.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Christopher Brosius, CB I Hate Perfume

I was surprised to bump into Christopher Brosius last summer at Elements Showcase, given his rebel reputation inside the fragrance industry; turned out he was attending as a panelist entitled, Art & Commerce: Can They Live Together? 

Flash forward almost a year later, and Christopher agreed to meet with me, and Clayton Ilolahia, from What Men Should Smell Like, in Williamsburg. Enter his gallery and one can easily imagine a perfumer who is in constant dialogue with his collection. Christopher spoke candidly to us about the times he had consciously chose to be part of the fragrance world, and the times he has gracefully stepped away. However outspoken, Christopher is quite easy to be around, and you get the sense that he has and will always take the path less traveled. He is an award-winning perfumer who has been creating fragrances on his own terms for more than 20 years. I could easily imagine Christopher riding a chariot filled with fragrances that challenge the status quo, taking us closer to what we didn't know we wanted. He wants fragrance to reveal, not mask or coverup.

Christopher mused about some becoming anosmic not only to their perfumes, but even to their own bodies. Lucky for us, this type of anosmia, the inability for people to smell their own crappy perfumes led Christopher to create his own fragrances. Christopher told us about a fragrance that he wore for the longest time because he fell in love with the initial top notes of tomato leaf. “The first fifteen minutes were soooo good.” The first hit blinded him to the rest. A good friend came to his rescue, and told him to please stop wearing the fragrance. This friendly scent intervention along with a decision to leave the city was the beginning of an intense exploration into capturing his olfactive impressions, and perhaps that glorious fifteen minutes into a bottle.

It was during his days at Demeter where he perfected making scented close-ups, if you will, Holy Water, Snow, and Dirt just to name a few. His approach came from a pure emotional investment about scent never a gimmicky one, when it started to go in the gimmicky direction he wanted out. Emancipated, he began his line, CB I Hate Perfume in July of 2004. He has created fragrances that in one moment speak to the transformation of love, and then has turned around and asked the question, what would the antithesis of scent be, a scent that only a few could smell? He created M5 Where We Are There Is No Here (#405), a fragrance that that is barely detectable, here he found his “ghost of a flower,”  he worked sandalwood into the formula, as many are anosmic to it.

Some have compared his fragrances to realism in art, but it was clear that he loathed this idea. His formulas are impressionistic, inspired by the real world, literature, memories, ideas, and people. He spoke with great clarity about the idea of Romanticism in fragrance and how he captured this notion in a fragrance, A Room with a View (#404). There is the iconic scene in the film, A Room with A View when Julian Sans and Helena Bonham Carter's characters find themselves together in a barley field. In that moment, their love is unspoken and yet they know that their connection is undeniable. Christopher saw the film first, and then read the novel, (in French) and found that the barley field in the film was indeed a field of violets in the novel, and thus a fragrance was inspired. He worked with beta-ionone, to create a Florentine Violet. Beta-Ionone is a note that turns on and off, comes and goes, adding texture, reflection, and emotion. Christopher described that texture is where the artistry lives when building a fragrance, it elevates the core idea, helps support and create the illusion. 

Christopher doesn't believe in signature scents, a single scent that one wears day to day, year after year. Rather the nose that we smell with has evolved, and is discerning and sophisticated. Through CB I Hate Perfume one can make decisions on a day-to-day basis, experimenting with scents and our many different sides, choosing a fragrance based on how we are feeling that particular day, similar to getting dressed. Perfume can be the driver of our days and nights.

As we were leaving, there seemed to be so much in motion for CB I Hate Perfume, an updated and streamlined website, a new design for his flacons, and an opportunity that comes from not the best news, seems CB I Hate Perfume is being kicked out of their current space, but a brilliant solution is here. Art and commerce are well and alive. Thank you Christopher. 

Become a benefactor. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Juniper Ridge: It's Like Being There

Photo Credit: Michael Nichols, National Geographic

The last couple of weeks I've been pondering my past visits to the more obscure national parks like, Lassen Volcanic, and Canyonlands, and I remembered how both the harshness and stunning beauty of these landscapes can be equally challenging to the mind and body. As I was remembering all this stuff, I couldn't help but notice that my dallying about nature seemed to be gently aligned, and certainly stirred by my recent acquisition of Juniper Ridge Cascade Glacier Cabin Spray, and their Winter Redwood (seasonal) Solid Perfume. Both start out bold. The Cabin Spray ignites the house with a heightened scent of reality, suddenly there is a green crispness, bark, pine, moss and all permeating the air.  I started calling these two unprocessed scents, in that here lies no illusion of some stupid idea of nature, or some weird reference to nature, these scents are pure, vigorous and concentrated. They are what they are. These fragrances for home and body feel as if Juniper Ridge folks go around in a van throughout the backcountry of California finding indigenous plants, and quickly distilling them. Wait-- that's right, that is exactly what they do. Their website explains it well.

Juniper Ridge is capturing potent gems that give us both a wide-angle and a close-up of the natural world. At first they shock and tingle my (city) system; however as they settle, and particularly when the solid perfume warms up on the skin there is a subtlety that comes alive, the kind that keeps me bringing my wrist to my nose most of the day for a lingering sniff. I am tickled that the solid perfume is easily portable, and all dressed up in its vintage re-purposed tin.

There is nothing like connecting to nature, if we take the time to do it and to notice. Thanks for doing and noticing Juniper Ridge.

 Please feel free to share any memorable nature encounters here.. 

Visit my Facebook page for more photos.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Power of Family and Scent: Past and Present

My lens of a place and time. Read my post on CaFleureBon.

.....Memories of the perfect order of the day stirred as she described how vetiver shades, hot and dusty from the day were hosed down. She still can smell the water hitting the shades and how perfect the smell was........

Monday, June 17, 2013

FRAGments: Underground, Artisan and Indie Perfume Event/Collective: June 22 in LA

If you find yourself in LA this Saturday don't miss FRAGments.  

Maggie Mahboubian, Parfum Lalun just told me she will be presenting her fragrance Jalousie on Saturday, but she will be presenting it an unconventional way. Sounds curious. Here are my thoughts on Jalousie, Parfums Lalun ....

Here's a bit of the press release...

FRAGments will bring together olfactory and perfume artists from across North America in a gallery setting to present a curated selection of their work. The event will be the first in a series to be held in a unique space. Each event will feature a moderated salon discussion followed by a reception and exhibition where perfumer/creators will be able to present their work in a collective pop- up shop designed and styled by FRAGments.

Maggie Mahboubian, founder and curator of FRAGments, added, “it will provide a small scale, intimate forum for artisan perfumers to interact directly with their audience”. Another unique aspect of this event is that it will define a community and spotlight the art of fragrance design through interpretive and experimental work. The first FRAGments event will be held at MorYork Gallery 

The following artists will present their work:

JK DeLapp, The Rising Phoenix Perfumery ( David Falsberg, Phoenicia Perfumes ( Amanda Feeley, Esscentual Alchemy ( Lisa Fong, Artemisia Natural Perfume (
Heather Kauffman, Jolie Laide Perfume ( Maggie Mahboubian, Parfums Lalun ( Christi Meshell, House of Matriarch ( Mik, MIKMOI San Francisco (
Ayala Moriel, Ayala Moriel Parfums ( Persephenie ( Sherri Sebastian, Sebastian Signs ( Nikki Sherritt, Rebel and Mercury Parfums ( Meredith Smith, Sweet Anthem Perfumes ( Dawn Spencer-Hurwitz, DSH Perfumes (
Laurie Stern, Velvet and Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery ( Roxana Villa, Roxana Illunimated Perfume ( Shelley Waddington, En Voyage Perfume (

FRAGments - Underground, Artisan and Indie Perfume Event/Collective The 1st Event to be held on June 22, 2013 at MorYork Gallery, 4959 York Blvd, Los Angeles, CA.